Nazi Olympics Exhibit Opens in Vancouver
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The sash worn by Canadian athletes at the 1936 Berlin Olympics featured a swastika as part of the design. (CBC) A controversial exhibit has opened in Vancouver, depicting the Canadian team at one of the most controversial Olympics ever — the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, staged by the German Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
The exhibit of photographs, documents and artifacts, which opened Thursday at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, shows how Hitler’s Third Reich turned the Games into a showcase for Nazi propaganda, and how Canadians became part of the spectacle.
“These games represent the first point of contact between Canada and Nazi Germany,” exhibit curator Frieda Miller told CBC News Thursday.
Photos show swastikas and Nazi banners flying alongside the five iconic Olympic rings.
A display case features the sash worn by Canadian athletes during the opening and closing ceremonies, adorned with a black swastika.
“[The sash] does seem striking, especially since it was carried with the Canadian flag,” said Miller.
A photograph at the Vancouver exhibit shows Canadian athletes holding up autograph books to a smiling Adolf Hitler. (CBC) Two other photographs stirred up controversy at the time, and still could today. One features Canadian athletes clamouring for Hitler’s autograph; another shows members of Canada’s team apparently giving a straight-armed Nazi salute.
But it was actually an Olympic Salute, according to Joan Langdon, a 13-year-old swimmer at the time, and one of the athletes from Canada’s 1936 team who marched past Hitler at the opening ceremonies.
“The Nazis’ were this way,” Langdon said holding her arm up in front of her.
“And we were this way,” she said holding her arm up to the side, almost as if waving.
“I didn’t realize the political aspect of it all,” she said.
The exhibit runs until June 2010.